Laurel Highlands will feature diversity in backfield
TribLIVE Sports Videos
On the Laurel Highlands' depth chart, there is only one line available for the starting running back position, but that's really just a formality. Coach Zack Just knows he has six potential starters, all with game-changing ability, creating the perfect combination of players to run the newly implemented double-wing offense.
“We don't have that true 20-25 carry-a-game back,” Just said. “We're looking at seven to eight guys to touch the ball on a Friday night.”
On the heels of a 1-9 2012 campaign, the Mustangs scrapped the playbook and installed the zone-blocking, space-creating, opportunistic double-wing this offseason in hopes of giving opposing defenses a game-planning headache.
“We're obviously going to try and spread it around and keep defenses honest,” Just said. “Each guy is a little bit different, and hopefully it becomes a challenge for defenses to game-plan for all of them.”
The Mustangs' ‘home run' threat is junior running back Dontay Jacobs, who broke his leg in Week 5 last year against Trinity.
Jacobs stayed the course last year rehabbing, regaining strength and coming back for track season, but what he wants most is the opportunity to play under the lights again.
“I'm real excited. Probably more excited than I've ever been,” Jacobs said. “Just to know I can get this full season again.”
Jacobs plays wingback and A-back in Just's new offense, creating more running opportunities inside the box as well as on the edge.
“I'm getting the ball more between the tackles and running through the line,” Jacobs said of the offense so far. “I like getting the ball in space and between the tackles.”
Fellow junior Jason Leone is a changeup to Jacobs' speed. Leone doesn't like to dance in the backfield, which is why he feels the new offense will benefit the runners.
“You have to hit your gaps and go,” Leone said. “It's great because a lot of the wingbacks are extremely fast.”
Leone said timing is everything in an offense that takes advantage of angles and numbers. Seamlessly receiving handoffs can make or break a play, especially if the quarterback's read is correct and the blocking holds up.
“The running backs have really been working closely with the quarterbacks to get the timing perfect,” Leone said. “The offense runs off of perfect timing.”
Just also expects sophomore quarterbacks Jimmy Pierce and Christian Jones to compete for reps, giving the Mustangs more running threats.
“Jimmy Pierce is extremely hard to bring down when he has the ball,” Just said. “He's very shifty.”
Backs Jordan Vecchiollla, Coron Mains and Dominic Galderisi will be called upon to contribute, but for Just there won't be a set rotation or number of reps.
“For me as the guy calling the plays, I think you have to stick with the hot hand,” Just said. “If you try to have a set rotation you limit yourself. If one of those guys gets hot they're going to carry it, there's no doubt.”
Justin Criado is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- WPIAL, coaches are still looking to schedule Week 9 rivalry games
- The Leader eager for Kittanning finale
- BVA hopes to keep momentum
- Leader Times Q&A: Redbank Valley’s Wyatt Hetrick
- Heavyweights West Allegheny, Central Valley meet in test for Parkway
- Longtime rivals Kittanning, Ford City set for final act
- Ford City, Kittanning matchup to be part of SI.com’s ‘Underdogs’
- Skiles has Bentworth headed in right direction
- Daily News Q&A: Lamont Wade, Clairton
- Previewing some of Western Pa.’s top Week 9 matchups
- Now in Class A, rivals GCC, Jeannette to battle for 2nd place in Eastern Conference